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Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz discusses War and Humanitarianism: The Case of Maurice Pate (1894-1965)

On September 26, 2019, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz, current holder of The Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at The Institute of World Politics gave a lecture on Maurice Pate, UNICEF’s first executive director.

Dr. Chodakiewicz serves as a professor and teaches courses on Contemporary Politics and Diplomacy, Geography and Strategy, Mass Murder Prevention in Failed and Failing States, and Russian Politics and Foreign Policy. He is also the author of Intermarium: The Land Between the Black and Baltic Seas and numerous other books and articles.

“People like Maurice Pate have made profound differences against seemingly overwhelming odds”

Dr. Chodakiewicz provided an extensive account of Maurice Pate’s life and discussed his deep dedication to Poland. This dedication first began when Pate was at Princeton University and worked on the undergraduate Red Cross committee. However, it was not long after this that WWI broke out and Pate volunteered for the Commission Relief in Belgium (CRB), which was an international (predominantly American) organization that arranged for food to be supplied to German-occupied Belgium and northern France. After the war ended on November 11, 1918, Pate joined the American Relief Administration, which was spearheaded by future President Herbert Hoover. Pate helped organize and direct their efforts to feed Polish children. During his time in Poland, Pate was also commissioned to help ease the tension between Poland and Bolshevik Russia.

A war on five fronts

At the beginning of the 20th century (1918-1921), Poland was involved in the Polish Bolshevik War while simultaneously coping with the aftershock of World War I. The Intermarium, a Latin word meaning “between two seas,” was coined by the Polish as the land between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. The Intermarium was devasted during World War I and in desperate need of foreign aid and humanitarian relief. This led to the Hoover Relief Mission (1919-1921), which according to Dr. Chodakiewicz, fed more than 1.3 million Polish children a day.

Later Years and WWII

During WWII, Pate was the head of the Commission for Polish Relief and was responsible for feeding and providing aid to those who were affected by the war. Dr. Chodakiewicz mentioned that, during the war, Pate and the Commission for Polish Relief fed as many as 200,000 malnourished women and children in Poland and raised over $6 million in aid for the Polish people. At the end of the war, Pate joined the Red Cross and in 1947 was elected to become UNICEF’s first executive director. Not long after Pate’s passing in 1965, UNICEF received the Nobel Peace Prize, which Pate had rejected in 1960 on the grounds that such a prize should be dedicated to all those who contributed and that no single person should be recognized. Dr. Chodakiewicz stated that UNICEF should have received the Nobel Peace Prize earlier under the leadership of Pate.

“Poland never left him”

Dr. Chodakiewicz concluded the lecture by arguing that Poland never left Maurice Pate. By examining his professional experience, we see his fondness for Poland and the well-being of its people. According to Dr. Chodakiewicz, Pate was regarded as a hero by the Poles and welcomed amongst the country’s elite as a result of the time he spent in Poland and those he helped who had no means to help themselves, especially children.

Throughout his life, Maurice Pate always gave to those who needed it the most. He left his mark and made the world a better place for many of those who suffered from famine and war throughout Europe. As Dr. Chodakiewicz said, “even small things marked him as somebody who’s imbued with sympathy and appreciation.”

To learn more about the Intermarium between the World Wars, click here. This is another lecture by Dr. Chodakiewicz which goes into great depth about the power vacuum of the Intermarium and other significant events across Europe between 1919-1939.

Video Intermarium Lecture Series